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Sex offender jailed for 11 years after victim finds him on Facebook

Crime WorldBy Sunday World
David Hedley had committed a string of sexual offences
David Hedley had committed a string of sexual offences

A prolific sex offender has been jailed for 11 years after one of his victims spotted him in the street and identified him on Facebook.

Police set up an operation to catch David Hedley, 20, after a series of attacks on lone women and girls in the West End of Newcastle over a period of years.

After he was arrested Hedley told probation officers he had been exposing himself to women since he was 11.

Forensics experts had preserved evidence from the scene of some of his attacks, but he was not on any DNA database.

Gavin Doig, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court that investigators were trying to trace the offender using familial DNA links, but this was a lengthy process.

Then a teenager he had attacked as she walked over a bridge in November last year spotted Hedley in the street.

She told police she had seen her attacker "quite by chance in the street" and managed to identify him on Facebook, Mr Doig said.

He was arrested in March and later admitted two counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, two counts of sexual assault, sexual assault on a child under 13, exposure and his most serious offence, attempted rape.

He targeted a teenager as she walked home and threw her to the ground, and she only managed to fight him off by biting his fingers.

Hedley, from Cornhill, East Denton, Newcastle, appeared in court by videolink.

Recorder Jamie Hill QC said the defendant's offending increased in seriousness, culminating in the attempted rape in March.

Even though he felt remorse after his attacks, it was not sufficient to stop him swiftly doing it again, the judge said.

"It is not surprising that the probation officer has assessed you as posing a high risk of serious harm to girls under the age of 18, and assessing that risk will remain until a considerable amount of work has been undertaken," the judge said.

He jailed Hedley for 11 years, with an additional five years licence after that, as well as putting him on the Sex Offenders' Register and imposing a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both indefinitely.

"It means that at the age of 20, you will be under the control of the Probation Service, initially the Prison Service, for the next 16 years," he said.

Outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fairlamb said: "David Hedley is a prolific sexual offender who has targeted his offences at young girls in the West Denton area of Newcastle since October 2012.

"It is clear that his offending behaviour would most likely have continued if he had not been apprehended by police.

"The public deserve to be protected from him and the sentence handed down today will ensure he is no longer at liberty to reoffend.

"We know that these type of offences do cause great concern to residents and we want to reassure people that we take all types of sexual offences very seriously and will always seek to put offenders before the courts."